Posts Tagged ‘winter style’

Boots, Jacket, Dress — A Feminine Formula for Cool Weather Style

knee high boots constance dunn

A huge star-plus of living in a warmish climate is that you rarely have to get bundled up. In the winter there are many sunny and cool days where you can bust out a warm and agreeable outfit and never feel like a stilted mummy.

I’m very much about easy, simple and super-comfortable ways to cheat glamour. Basically, the test is this: the outfit must feel pretty close to wearing pajamas in terms of comfort — but make you feel lifted, or a bit lifted, in spirit. Pajamas, particularly flannel ones that drape on the ground, can’t do this. But something you find stylish, that gives off a pleasing projection of You when worn, can do this.

So here are some style tips on achieving a certain level of sass and comfort when the weather is cool, or even freezing for that matter.

Try a stretchy dress as a foundation piece. But not the flimsy summer kind. Go for the long sleeve, body conscious kind that range from stretchy ribbed cotton. The one I’m wearing is from BCBG, the Trenna Essential Knit Ribbed Dress — they seem to always carry them online or in their stores, they are great for layering and travel well. They retail for about $60 but can be had for less during sales. They are also warm and incredibly comfortable to wear, kind of like an endless t-shirt. Wear some smart shapewear underneath to contain your assets and present a smooth line (no VPL or bra lines) to the world…

Add cool-weather accessories that add color, personality and luxury. Invest in your accessories. Scarves, gloves, bags and so on. You don’t need to acquire many of these. When you go out a-hunting for them, though, realize that it will benefit you over the long haul to buy the best that you can find and/or your budget will allow. The best is not always the most $$, either. I’m wearing a circle scarf around my neck mostly for a dash of color and for a bit of sun protection on the neck. I purchased it for well under $30 from a groovy little entrepreneur I met at a woman’s show who would find fantastic silks in the garment district and sew them up at home in her spare time.

Tip: Discern high from low and in-between by learning to spot the difference between high-quality fabrics and materials and the not-so. Where do you start? Use the hands-on method, examining and touching accessories that run the gamut in price and quality. Feel the difference in your hands and on your body. After a while your senses will be able to spot the difference quickly.

Frye boots martina engineer tall boot

The Martina Engineer Tall Boot by Frye. At $378, they are not the most inexpensive out there, but they are a staple that you can wear forever…

Find your favorite runaround boot. I have been a fan of semi-clunky knee boots for like, ages, and have been stoked to see them back in force during the last couple of years. Here’s the thing with boots. Some are spindly skinny and a bit dramatic for running around during the everyday, while some are reminiscent of what Fred Gwynne might have sported on The Munsters.

Somewhere between these two extremes is your perfect runaround boot: the pair that flatter your frame, are comfortable as heck and project something of your personal style. In the photo I’m wearing a vintage pair of motorcycle boots that I found in a thrift shop back in college for around $20 and have worn about 5 million times since then. Brown is a nice intermediary color because it’s a neutral that will works with a lot of items in your wardrobe from black. If it was colder I’d be wearing gray or taupe tights, which would work with these boots as well.

Okay, back to you. Before settling on your everyday cold-weather boots, give a thought about what you want to look like before heading to the stores. Here’s why: I have found that having a vision of what you want is a better shopping strategy than merely going blindly from store to store, looking for something kind of acceptable. That type of strategy will leave you with an awful pair of hiking boots made from unpronounceable meshy materials that were cooked up on a lab.

Tip: And if you like an old-fashioned look, check out thrift shops or vintage stores first. If you’re finding boots that are not throwback enough for your tastes (as in, you’re finding stuff from the late-1990’s when your flavor is more like 1960’s or 1970’s), then look at the “revived” lines from longtime boot manufacturers like Frye or, if you’re a guy, Red Wing. They usually won’t be inexpensive but they’ll be top-notch in terms of quality and if you take care of them, you’ll wear them forever.

Top with a Slender Cloak, Mi’Lady: Here’s where winter dressing can go terribly, terribly wrong. The parka or its puffy equivalent is heaped on your lovely frame, cloaking it from existence and and essentially banishing all the delicious by-products of style and glamour from your life. On the other hand, you don’t want to freeze.

Assess your climate and determine the amount of warmth you’ll need in your basic winter coat. Since winter can be dreary, please hunt out a coat in a color that gives you a buzz every time you wear it, and suits your frame and shape. And read this, unless you want to end up feeling like a dancing bear.

In the photo I am wearing a lightweight wool pea coat from Banana Republic. It is the right marriage of warmth and style, and is navy, which is a workable neutral shade. I bought it for a crazy sum, something like $28. I think the price had something major to do with the fact that it was hanging in one of their stores in West Palm Beach Florida during the summer. I tried it on over a white strapless dress and turned to my trusted shopping companion. “It’s about 100 degrees out. So why would I buy this?”

She shrugged and said, “Why wouldn’t you? It looks great. You’ll wear it.”


Think, Dress & Grow Warm

Juno Beach, Florida - February 2011

As a raucous winter storm is a-brewing for the Midwest and Northeast, it helps to remember that when interacting in a freezing world, “Think yourself warm” can be a powerful link to keep a positive mindset and a limber body. Did you know that by simply creating imagery in your mind of your body at a comfortable temperature you can feel more fluid and relaxed in the bitter cold than when clenched against it beneath a bundle of clothes?

While the power of the mind is profound in feeling and looking one’s best, it’s a strategy best used in tandem with a smart-looking winter wardrobe. Consider the following when piecing together your most attractive storm-ready ensembles:

*Think Functionable & Flattering. Fewer things are more dreary from a glamour perspective than having your figure covered up a la mummy for months at a time. A sassy winter look is tights worn under a clingy knit dress, suede or leather skirt or even winter shorts. Select wool tights that are tightly knit, so you stay warm while maintaining the profile of your legs. Likewise, select shorts that are clearly of the dress variety and meant for cold weather. Usually these are found in heavy fabric, dark colors and lined.

Select tights and shorts (or dress or skirt) in matching or complementary  dark shades. Black is always a cold-weather winner, along with grey. Silver-grey shades like pewter or gun metal are nice and upbeat in a cold-weather way, particularly when worn against winter white or cream.

*Power of Proportion. Consider your physical size in relation to winter-weather gear, and choose items that scale nicely with your overall frame. No stomping about in ski boots and a puffed-up coat if you’re uber petite, or mini-me hats and scarves if your build is on larger side.

Twiggy with a modern, circa 1960's, take on the 1920's cloche hat

*Quality counts. Invest in the good stuff. In winter months, more than ever, purchasing quality items is important. For one thing, such items last longer, making them a better investment than wear-it-for-one-season-because-it-won’t-last-for-two items. Also, quality cold-weather items tend to contain sophisticated insulation and finer-woven fabrics, making them a better defense against the elements.

*Engage winter trends selectively. Yes, platform heels and knee-high boots are the rage this season, but they won’t do much for you if you toddle about uncomfortably in them. Find–and stick with–that sweet spot between practicality, warmth and your own personal style.

*Add your charm. Speaking of personal style, don’t forget yours in the gnarly weather. Add a touch of ye to your winter wardrobe via cold-weather accouterments like hats, scarves and gloves. A pair of gloves in sleek patent leather to match your handbag, for instance. A leopard scarf and muffler set, or a vintage wool cloche hat worn beneath a tumble of curls and beautiful bright lips. What storm?